As a gifted teacher, I am always looking for ways to stretch my own mind, as well as the minds of my students. But, if I’m being honest, it’s sometimes difficult to manage to do that while keeping them motivated, interested, and engaged. Plus, I want to be excited about what I am teaching, too!
A few weeks ago, we began studying the book Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The historical fiction novel surrounds three unlikely friends during the strikes and tragedies of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Going into this book, I knew it would be a prime opportunity to discuss the concept of “symbols” with my sixth graders. Students documented symbols throughout the novel and ultimately chose one to stick with. This is where Big Universe’s Diary of a Pet Turkey comes in.
I read the picture book about Magic Marker the pet turkey to the class as a whole group using my projector. We discussed the features of the book noting that the turkey is telling the story (a great way to insert a mini-lesson about point of view), and that the book adds facts about turkeys throughout it. For example, when Magic Marker flies, she can’t go very far. On that same page, there is a fact about turkeys’ abilities to fly. We then applied this same concept to our Uprising symbols.
Students created “Diary of a Symbol” picture books inspired by Diary of a Pet Turkey. Their books contained a creatively written story from the point of view of their chosen symbol, but also included factual information about the Triangle Fire and immigrant life during the 1900s. The books turned out beautifully!
(diary of blood)
(diary of money)
Remember that older kids adore picture books just as much as younger students, and there are plenty of ways to incorporate them into your classroom instruction. How can you use Diary of a Pet Turkey with your own students?